Tuesday, May 15, 2012

That Which Abides

Why is Louie Schwartzberg's "Gratitude," the most popular TEDX presentation of all time? Why is it that medical and mental health facilities want to use it for healing? Why does one reviewer recommend watching it every day? Because it is healing: it is capable of causing energetic healing.  It can move the viewer energetically into alignment with Source--self with Self--with the glory and majesty of manifest Self.
We are entering the era of The Gift--or rather, the era of Awakening to The Gift. The world dines on this Gift every day.  Yet, at least in the modern world, it seems The Gift is not enough anymore (was it once enough?). It is easy for gratitude for this to fall away when the focus is on that, on more and better. Once the game of more and better commences, there must eventually (and continuously, ad infinitum) be Even More and Better Yet--with none of it, meanwhile, satisfying anyone to the core. 
"Focus on that which abides" comes to mind.  I don't remember when this phrase first entered my world. Maybe it was during Buddhism studies or meditation training and practice. Whatever its origins, I can tell you this: it's good counsel. 
But what is that which abides? Possessions, money, status come and go.  The heartbeat, the breath:  they last but a lifetime. It can't be family. Parents die and children go their own way. Or sometimes children die and parents go their own way. Not even the sun, at 4 1/2 billion years and counting, abides--not in the way that is meant here.  Even planets have a lifespan, albeit a relatively long one from the human point of view:  just like every other living thing, they come and go.

It is easier to see this ephemerality in insects or plants or flowers.  May features irises aplenty in my garden, then they are gone by June; June is for peonies, poppies, primrose.  The cosmos start their show in July, the dahlias in August:  you get the picture.  For some species, the flowering season is brief--as brief as a day, sometimes,  Other species will bloom and bloom until--well, in this part of the world anyway--the first good, hard frost. 
Creatures, structures, flowers, trees all come into being then cease to be.  Where do they come from?  Where do they go?  Good questions.
What gives rise to all of creation?  That which abides.  (Words will fail here, but I’ll use them anyway.  Call it upaya:  expedient means.)  That which abides is Life--the Life Force--Itself, which I call Love.  What gives rise to all of creation is Source.  Don't get lost in the naming; focus on the Thing Itself.  Source is Source; that which rises and falls (words rise and fall, you notice) can never be Source--source, maybe, but never Source.  
I am utterly astonished by the ineffable beauty, design, grandness, vastness, variety, elegance, order, and and and, of the manifestation of Source we call Nature. Seeing it captured and projected on screen in "The Beauty of Pollination" moves me to the point of overwhelm:  to tears.  I experience again, newly, even more dramatically (because it is moving life versus still life) the grand stirring that viewing my first close-up photographs of the Natural World caused in me. 
Life, my body, the earth and the camera all conspired to give me the great gift of seeing.  From the beginning, I have known and intended that the photographic images resulting from that conspiracy could serve to magnify, speak the evidence of the inherent beauty, freedom and flow in life, that they could serve as "vivid reminders of how well Love knows Its way and how well It does by us when we let It have it."  
 I didn’t have to look beyond my own body, my own back yard to see Love’s astounding beauty and bounty, some of which I've captured on “film.”  Love’s Freeway, Moving Art:  they exist to rouse the sleepy (or sleeping), to illuminate what might otherwise be missed.  They exist not to showcase pretty flowers, breathtaking sunsets, majestic landscapes or exotic creatures, but to expose the very soul of these: the dance and Dancer of which they are (and we are) all a part.  Love's Freeway's images, Schwartzberg’s stunning, elegant, grace-filled films can bring us present to The Gift, the bounty, the utter wealth of every moment--to our living inheritance endowed at birth, and to its Source.  
We needn't hunt for riches or labor to earn them.  What ever could we want when we already have it all?  When we already are it all.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Salmon r Us

It's like a penance, it occurs to me, these men dumping out crate upon crate of salmon carcass into the Columbia River of the Pacific Northwest, a move toward restoring it to health.  I see a prayer in their actions too:  Please, River, forgive us.  Please, salmon, forgive us.  I have happened upon a Nature program telling some of the story of what has happened to the Pacific wild salmon and the Columbia River basin over the last 150 years.  I learn that human intrusion has upset the natural balance of that region to the extent that 13 species of salmon--the prized sockeye among them--are endangered, and several others are already extinct.

We've done it again. Dams, hatcheries:  we thought them good ideas when we built them.  But the harm they've caused and the subsequent attempts to reverse it have cost a lot and yielded very little. Hatcheries were designed to solve the problem of collapsing salmon populations caused by the interference of the dams, but they introduced their own problems, a dying river among them.

Collectively, we are apparently still learning the meaning of "ecosystem".  Take out one cell of the body of that system, and the otherwise unbroken wheel of the life cycle is breached.  With the circle broken, the life cannot cycle; it must dead end.  When we stomp out "pests" or parasites or predators in large numbers (or relocate them), for example, a brilliant balance is tipped, and an exquisite "machine" if you will grinds to a halt.
What is a "pest" anyway?  And what is a pesticide?  Why, a killer of pests, of course.  But from the standpoint of the life cycle, the unbroken wheel, the "loop," there are no pests.  From a wholistic standpoint, all parts are essential, vital to the healthy functioning of (in this case) an ecosystem.  Just as with a house of cards:  remove but one and the structure collapses.  Witness the devastating decline of our wild salmon and their natural habitat.
The program ends on an encouraging note:
"If we give Nature a chance to recover these fish, it will happen... Although it's only a fraction of a percent of the historic runs in the tens of thousands, the magnitude of the improvement [between 2008 and 2010, with new measures having been taken to restore natural conditions] showed us that it's not too late for the salmon."

I watched Idaho Fish and Game men in trucks taking extraordinary measures to help recover the salmon populations and the Basin, and it did my heart good.  Just as it did my heart good to learn that in Australia, "dedicated under-
passes" have been built for--and are being used by!-- koalas and other wildlife whose habitats have been split apart by urban development and its resulting highways.  That human beings are putting their minds and funds and energy to protecting these endangered cells of our One Body is a good sign to me.
But the jury's still out on the fate of the salmon of the Pacific Northwest:  the program does not close before leveling a warning:
"Six million years of evolution in these streams, 10,000 years of evolution since the last glacier:  are we going to throw it all away in one generation and leave nothing for our children?  This is the time."
Yes indeed:  this is the time.